I thought I was still buzzed from the night before when I first saw what appeared to be a person lounging in a yellow pool-floatie on the water. “Only in Vegas,” I thought. Some drunk idiot ends up using Lake Bellagio as his personal swimming pool. But looking closer, I could see that the person was a man moving his arm back and forth a few times before bringing it to rest. “Is he casting?”Details
None of us guessed what was coming. Within hours of our leaving the river, the county would close all boat ramps and Oregon’s governor would implement stay-at-home guidelines. We were fishing on the last days of winter steelhead season 2020 and we didn’t even know it.Details
Until January 4, I’d never even heard the term “float-n-fly.” It sounded like a kid’s ride at the fairground, or the street name for some illicit new drug. But I Googled it that day—the same day Oroville, California-based flyfishing guide Ryan Williams, and his partner, Logan McDaniel, won the Shasta Lake Wild West Bass Trail tournament.Details
In April 2019, Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, gave a somewhat stunning keynote address at an environmental conference hosted by Boise State’s Andrus Center for Public Policy. His comments were thoughtful, educated, and encouraging. But mostly, they were surprising, particularly his thoughts about what might be necessary to save Idaho salmon. Rep. Simpson and I discussed the topic in mid-December, and his quotes below come from his keynote and our conversation. Can Idaho salmon truly be saved? No one knows. But the Congressman has been down a similarly daunting path. In 2015, Mr. Simpson’s 15-year effort to broker a seemingly impossible deal resulted in the creation of Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness. (Which Mark Menlove covered in his 2014 feature, “A Fisherman’s Monument.”) If wild salmon and steelhead can indeed be saved, then Rep. Simpson is providing these essential fish the best shot they’ve had in decades.Details
I think that Ingrid would want you to know—as she stands in her waders, stands by her weir, looking down at a dark mass of grayling that were trapped in the night—that there was a time when no one would’ve thought fish would ever need to be counted. But she’d also want you to know that these don’t have to be the last wild days. She would want you to know that not everything has been lost, and that there is still the hope of unknown waters.Details
My first tarpon on a fly was a stout, laid-up fish that ate my worm and broke me off an hour later. I was a teenager at the time, and fortunate to have a father who took me on an annual spring trip to the Keys. But as I grew older and started achieving some success on the bow, my focus shifted to permit. Like many permit anglers, my trips often ended with a long flight home, followed by a long-winded explanation to my wife about how I could spend three days fishing, catch nothing, yet still feel the trip was “a step in the right direction.” At the height of my addiction, I was focusing more on the seconds ticking away on my watch than I was on scanning the water. I’d lost the mental game before even stepping on the skiff.Details
Wild Steelhead are not corn, wheat, or cattle. They are not oranges, apples, or anything that we can control with expected specific outcomes and pounds delivered to market. Put them in a box and they will swim right out of it.
Even among anadromous fish, steelhead are the least predictable of any salmonid swimming the North Pacific. They are never a species of multitude, like Kings, Coho, or even Pinks, that come home in a rush of biological delivery to the rivers spanning the West Coast. They cruise along the edges, arriving to their natal rivers in fits and spurts, with dozens of life histories across each watershed. In short, there were never that many steelhead to begin with.
Before first light hit any of the famed pools along Oregon’s North Umpqua on the morning of September 8th, the Archie Creek fire had already begun.Details
The whole trip was Forrest’s dumb idea. But for Forrest, enthusiasm overcomes all obstacles. In his world, “Rad” is always capitalized. As in, “Dude! It’ll be so Rad to go fishing right now!” But Smithers over Thanksgiving? Not Canadian Thanksgiving, mind you—on October 12, a perfectly reasonable time to be fishing in northern British Columbia—but American Thanksgiving, a month and a half later.Details
Minnesota’s Mississippi shoreline bounds the “Southeast Blufflands” region, or what anglers know as the Minnesota Driftless. All five of us fish it: A magical world of pastoral valleys, each drained by a spring creek, mostly brimming with wild fish.Details
If you’re unfamiliar with flood-tide fishing, imagine your grassy front yard that your kid was supposed to cut three weeks ago but hasn’t. In the West this might attract crickets or hoppers, but in the coastal Southeast, when the right moons and weather combine, the grass floods, attracting snails. The snails attract fiddler crabs, the crabs attract redfish, and the redfish attract us.Details
For Brianna Proctor—a lead helicopter crewmember based in Swan Valley, Idaho—learning about and working near rivers all over the country has become a major benefit of her firefighting career. She’s been a wildland firefighter for 15 years, working primarily in the air attack and helicopter realm as a member of what’s called a “helitack” crew—a group that works alongside helicopters to facilitate water drops, fire recons, and the shuttling of crews into remote areas of the fire.Details
On March 13, 60-year-old retired schoolteacher Ray Montoya arrived on the Arabian Archipelago of Socotra, intent on landing what is thought to be the first permit on a fly from the war-torn country of Yemen. Three weeks later, the talented fly-tyer, photographer, artist, and angler was still there, grounded like the rest of us. But Montoya is not like the rest of us. A Navy veteran, he grew up in a third-generation military family, bouncing around the U.S. as a kid. He became a teacher after college, and in the late ’90s began teaching internationally with his wife, Kerry.Details
When Matthew Churchman woke up on a recent Sunday morning, at first the only thing growling was his stomach. Coffee and a cold breakfast took care of that. Camp, nestled in a 300-yard-long, cottonwood-and-willow stretch of river bottom, was in the process of being broken down. Skies…Details
It was a brisk and beautiful morning, the sky cloudless, the sunlight sharp. It was the kind of day that under different circumstances would have you looking forward to the coming seasons of warmth and splendor and carefree fun. We began packing the car. I’ll never forget the looks on some of my neighbors’ faces as I took the bags of groceries—canned goods, pasta, rice and yes, even some toilet paper—to the car. Those faces betrayed thoughts. Wait, should I be doing the same thing? Fear may be the only thing more contagious than this virus.Details
“Judge Sharon Gleason, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Alaska, ruled last week that the Forest Service violated federal law by approving future logging in the 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest.”
I pay my bills here in Southeast Alaska, at least in part, by having short and intense conversations on airplanes. I help wedge wadered clients from all over the globe into DeHavilland Beavers, then drop in on some of the planet’s most spectacular temperate rainforestDetails
Spending more time at home lately? Fancy yourself a writer? Could you use $2,500? Then consider entering a submission for the 2020 Robert Traver Fly Fishing Award, sponsored by the John D. Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF). Here is the link to the awards page: https://www.voelkerfoundation.com/traveraward/ and below is the winning submission from 2019—”A Wet World that Burns” by Jimmy Watts (photos by Carson Artac), which first appeared in the summer 2018 issue of The DrakeDetails
Survive, is what an angler does the first few minutes after hooking a striped marlin. My friend Nick and I shout with joy, accompanied by excited words in Spanish from our new friends. We watch a reel getting emptied and watch the fish leap, flip, and dive. Thirty minutes later and it’s the post-release chatter,…Details
riter and historian David T. Courtwright calls them “limbic capitalists”—people or companies that target our limbic system, the part of our brains primarily responsible for emotion, especially as it relates to pleasure, motivation, and survival. Courtwright is author of The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business. “Biological evolution shaped the limbic system,…Details
As a lifetime Oregon resident, angler, and guide, I spend 40-60 days a year on the rivers of the Southern Oregon coast. I interact with anglers that use all types of methods, and every one of them I’ve talked to has noticed a significant decline in encounters with wild steelhead. How can this be explained?…Details
It’s late February and I stumble out the door to grab another beer kept cold by winter’s free refrigeration. If it was anything but the high-octane variety, it would’ve frozen from a lack of alcohol. I pop the cap, drain it, and unzip my pants, melting as much snow as possible when I piss—anything to…Details
Every year, a small number of striped bass winter over in the bays, marshes, and salt ponds of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We call them “holdovers.” They’re not big, they can be tough to find, and by the middle of the winter, they look a little haggard. Their flanks, once polished a gleaming silver by a…Details
The latest chapter in the Madison River regulations debate unfolded at a Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting held in Helena on Tuesday night. Drake contributor Michael Wright gives an update in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:Details
“The Mend” is a heartfelt story about a promising high-school football coach, who’s star player is also his son. After losing the championship game to crosstown rivals, a rift forms in the family dynamic. Years later the father-son duo, with the help of a river, find a way to reconnect. Directed by Broc J. Isabelle.…Details
“Journey of the Silver King” follows Megalops Atlanticus on his poon-y quest for sex, grub and a seat at the throne. With the help of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, his Keys Kingdom is looking prime for an on-time royal welcome. Journey of the Silver King from Bonefish and Tarpon Trust on Vimeo.Details
Chica de Mayo has proven to be a massively successful women’s flyfishing fiesta. And, if you’re anywhere near Bozeman on Saturday, May 11, be sure to drop by The River’s Edge West and SIMMS Fishing Products to see what’s new. “This year, we’re expanding our educational offerings and also hosting an event kick off social/trunk…Details
The John D. Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing are now accepting submissions for the 2019 Robert Traver Flyfishing Writing Award. The author of the winning essay will pocket $2,500. (Enough beer money to see you through run off. Maybe.) The Traver Award was created in 1994 by Nick Lyons and the…Details
We’ve followed Chris Owens, Brian Jill, Thad Robinson and Jay Johnson onscreen, navigating gnarly fishing terrain and living to tell about it, for years. This month the well-vaccinated foursome brings the “Fish or Die” party to Animal Planet. “They are not survival experts, but these close friends are determined to work together and boldly follow…Details
Plastic is not only filling our landfills but is finding its way into our waterways and onto the flats. Kick Plastic was launched by Costa to help reduce the amount of plastic it uses as a company and to mobilize a movement. Abaco Lodge owner Oliver White is on board, eliminating single-use water bottles at…Details
Two Florida anglers who lost tens of thousands of dollars in fly shop inventory are now back in the hunt for a new business location after recovering most of their pilfered merchandise.
Meet Jack Buccola — a 12-year-old angler from Bend, Oregon. In RA Beattie’s new film, NexGen, we see the rivers of the American West unfold through Jack’s eyes as he witnesses the impact of wildfires on his home waters, and explores new adventures on a road trip with his father, Ryan, friend, Judd Field, and…Details
Gas up the DeLorean, pour a sip of hot tub time-machine water, and blast into the past with Trouts Fly Shop’s “Throwback Flyfishing Film Fest” on February 5, at Denver’s Oriental Theater.
This year anglers are staring down the barrel of sacrifice. The worst run of summer steelhead headed up the Columbia River and its tributaries in generations is here.
The Osprey journal teams with US and Canadian conservation groups to expand its wild salmon and steelhead advocacy For more than 30 years, The Osprey journal has dug its talons into wild Pacific salmon and steelhead advocacy by promoting the best science and policies to restore and conserve native fish populations.Details
Colorado’s Anglers All fly shop is getting set to detonate its annual Mile-High 25 showdown — the world’s premier “Catch, Photo, Release” tourney. For 2019, more than 50 teams will test skills against 25 eligible species on the fly. From muskie to wiper to bluegill to splake, last season’s attendees landed 24 out of 25…Details
Someone wise once said, “If we can’t remember our past, we’re doomed to repeat it.” In Sage’s latest Swing Season edit, Ghost of Steelhead Future, Ashland Fly Shop’s Jon Hazlett also says something genius: “Abandon the river… abandon the fish… not this river!” Catch up with Jon as he time-machines back into an Atlantic salmon…Details
“A flyfishing guide based in Colorado, Maddie Brenneman has followed her heart right into the life she’s designed for herself, but not without some trial and error. Constantly taking a long look at her own motivations and desires, she’s made sure that she’ll never look back and wonder, ‘What if?’” Via the “Live More Now”…Details
Shot entirely in northern British Columbia, Alignment brings the worlds of steelheading and snowboarding together across a wintry season of discovery. The full-length film, below, features Eric Jackson, John Jackson, Curtis Ciszek, Darcy Bacha, and friends as they ride B.C.’s breathtaking mountains and swing its wild rivers in search of balance. Three months in the woods…Details
The proposal to keep Penns Creek’s wild trout wild faces a stocking truck full of opposition Penns Creek, nestled in the gentle folds of the Pennsylvania Appalachians, is one of a kind. Not because of its history, or its hatches, or its scenery, even though it has all of the above, but because it has…Details
Alignment is a story about finding balance during a winter-long season that teeters between going big in the Coast Mountains and going remote on steelhead rivers fed by those same peaks. Set in Terrace, British Columbia, and using Skeena Spey Lodge as a basecamp, the film features professional snowboarders (and feral anglers) Eric Jackson, John…Details
Wiped off the state map, or so it was thought. Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists, working a decades-long fish forensics case, announced this week the discovery of a believed-to-be extinct cuttie found alive and well in a handful of remote streams.
Last year more than 400 people came together and paddled six miles in support of the return of a free-flowing lower Snake River. This year the Flotilla will focus on tribal land and tradition. Canoe families from sovereign tribes across the Northwest will gather on the Clearwater River, and paddle downstream through the heart of…Details
Jeff Currier—one of the most accomplished, humble anglers alive—on being Jeff. Via BeAlive: “Flyfisher and self-taught artist Jeff Currier has caught and painted more unique species of fish than he ever thought possible. He is now chasing his goal of 500 across the globe, while also sharing his love of fishing through teaching, writing, and…Details
This November a new ballot initiative calling for improved fish habitat safeguards could rewrite the rules Bristol Bay, AK, home to the salmon habitat protection battle that’s now been playing on repeat for years, could avoid development threats such as Pebble Mine with a restructuring of the state’s antiquated Fish Habitat Permit Law.Details
Win the Native Fish Society’s “Bahamas for a Benjamin” raffle and bonefish at a luxe lodge on the Marls of Abaco for less than what you spent last week on pizza and beard oil. Lose, and it’s still a win because your hundred buck donation supports the NFS’s work restoring the Pacific Northwest’s wild fish and…Details
RepYourWater’s Bash for Boulder Creek is back. The 4th annual event, a fundraiser for Boulder Flycasters (Boulder’s Trout Unlimited chapter), will not only include all of the great festivities of Bashes past—games, food, beer, music, fun—but will also be the launch party for a collaborative collection between RepYourWater and Sight Line Provisions.